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Season for giving begins earlier every year

By Sharon Cox, For the Sun

Just as the fall semester began this year, so too did Christmas decorations. Some people complained and editorials addressed the early marketing strategy. Editors wrote that the bottom line seems more important than the “spirit” of Christmas.

But the spirit can be felt in August just as well as December. We know of grandparents working on hand-made toys or mementoes for loved ones, but there are other reasons why the holiday season may start early. This fall, while getting art supplies, I saw a new reason.

A white-haired lady at one of the large department stores, was buying up tree lights and small silver glass decorations. A young woman behind her asked if August wasn’t a little early to be buying decorations for Christmas.

The older lady turned around and explained her cancer prognosis was not good and she wanted to have some things done for her grandson. She said he was with the Reserves and should be home in time, but she might not be there when he arrived in North Dakota. She said she was crocheting tree decorations and wanted to get the tree up and decorated early, because “things take a while to do.”

The young woman’s face flushed, and her conversation changed. She offered to help the grandmother put her items on the belt. … It was a lesson that young woman may remember as North Dakota’s military Reserves return for the holidays.

True, decorations, toys and wrappings hit the shelves earlier every year it seems, and like anyone,  when there’s something new on the horizon, we question change and the value of that change.

But an ear first and mouth last would have been appropriate for the young woman. The cashier smiled as the decorations went into her bags. Her comment: “Looks like someone is getting an early start to the season.”

The grandma smiled and said she needed to get it done early so her loved ones were not left without a festive reception for her grandson. She insisted she would not be around to see her grandson, but he’d always know she loved him and thought about him, in case she wasn’t able to get back here after her cancer treatment.

I didn’t know her, but her sweet face will be with me as the holidays approach. We are such opinionated people, lashing out at the unfamiliar when listening in silence would give us an answer. 

A few people privy to that conversation and others like it, will probably have a different feeling about reports of “bottom-line” early Christmas sales. It reminds me of grandfathers carving wooden toys after harvest concluded, or grandma starting holiday cookies, candies, cakes and breads way before Thanksgiving. Some things need time. I face the same thing with making art for the holidays. Few art items can be rushed to completion the week prior to Christmas.

If anyone has an item for this column, please send to Sharon Cox, PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402-1559.